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Save Money With These 10 DIY Car Repairs
There is nothing worse than taking your car to the garage, asking a mechanic to check what’s wrong with it and then hearing him take a big breath and utter those dreaded words “It’s not looking good, it’s going to be expensive.” It’s normally at that moment that you start contemplating whether you really need your car, even though deep down you know you really do. When running well, a car is something to be cherished and proud of, but no matter how modern and new the car it will eventually have a problem. As this is so rarely cheap and happened to me recently, it got me thinking that surely there are cheaper ways of fixing these issues as the price for repairs are so expensive mainly due to the labour costs. This then made me want to find out if there is a way we can all fix our cars ourselves without having much car knowledge. So I wanted to share with you the top 10 DIY car repairs we can all do that will save us money. Some of these will help prevent our cars from breaking down and others are fixes for when this does happen.
Change your battery
A battery will usually last between 4-6 years and should have the date stamped on it to make it easy for you to find out how old it is. It’s important to change your battery before it dies and the good news is that it’s actually pretty quick and easy to replace, you only need a basic set of wrenches. There are many videos and step-by-step guides on how to do this, but the one thing you do need to know is that when you disconnect the battery, make sure you disconnect the negative cable first. Then when you fit the new battery connect the negative cable last. This is to prevent the possibility of short circuiting your car.
Change your brake pads
Now, this might sound scary and a little overwhelming but you might be surprised at just how easy this is to do. Of course, when it comes to your brakes these need to be done properly so always feel free to get someone to check through what you have done before getting back into your car.
Having you brake pads replaced can cost a small fortune, as I sadly found out, but it can actually be done at home at a fraction of the cost. All you need is a wheel lug wrench, basic wrenches, pliers and a jack/set of jack stands. A new set of brake pads won’t cost that much at all, anything from £10-£40 and by not paying any labour costs you are able to save a lot of money. The actual procedure is simple; remove the wheel and hardware, pull out the worn pads, push in the calliper piston, install the new pads then reinstall the hardware. Remember to check the thickness of your brake pads every 10,000 miles, if the thickness falls below 2mm-3mm then it’s time for a replacement.
Replace a headlight
One of the easier things to do, replacing the bulb in a headlight is quick and cheap. There are many short videos on how to do this out there, but there a couple of great tips. The first being, you should not touch the bulb with your bare hands, the grease from your fingers can cause the bulb to burn out early. The other piece of advice that I found helpful was to take the old bulb out with you when you buy the new one as it is very easy to buy the wrong one.
Fix a paint scratch
Arguably one of the more trickier car repairs but also one that will save you the most money. Although it is a little harder than changing a tyre, it is still pretty quick to do and the results might just surprise you. There is a fantastic step-by-step guide on how to do this here but a few things to remember are; always clean the area first, apply a primer and leave at least a day for the paint to dry.
How to rotate a tyre
We have already covered how to change a tyre, but knowing when and how to rotate a tyre can make a huge difference in not only how long they last but also how safe your car is to drive. It is a quick and easy task that can save you money so please feel free to check out how to do this here. All you need is a car jack, jack stands and a wrench. Your car’s tires should be rotated every 6 months or every 6,000 – 8,000 miles to ensure they stay safe and even.
Change your oil
Changing your oil is a relatively easy thing to do and will keep your car running smoothly. All you need to do this procedure is a ratchet, oil filter, wrench, funnel, new oil, oil container, and oil filter. However, remember to wait at least a couple of hours after driving before attempting this as the oil may still be hot. If you are unsure whether your oil needs changing then there are some things to look out for, such as; the colour, consistency, increased engine noise and if you have clocked up a lot of miles since your last oil change then this might need changing.
Spark Plug replacement
A spark plug is a device that delivers an electric current from your ignition to the combustion chamber, meaning it’s vital that this is working correctly in order for your car to start. There are a few signs to look out for when your spark plug might need changing, these are; lack of acceleration, high fuel consumption, engine surging, trouble starting your car and when your engine misfires. If these things were to happen then the majority of us would take our car straight to the garage for it to get looked at and repaired. Knowing how to both look for and repair this problem can save you hundreds of pounds. A great guide on how to fix this can be found here.
Change your tyre
Having owned a car for many years, I feel both a little guilty and ashamed for never properly learning how to change a tyre. But now that I have I soon realised how important this actually is. A simple and cheap DIY car repair that can be the difference between being stranded on the motorway and being able to drive home. It’s worth knowing that if you do have to drive on a spare tyre then most have a speed limit of 55mph and say you shouldn’t really drive further than 70 miles.
Replacing Air Filters
Replacing your cars Air Filter can increase fuel efficiency, prolong engine life and reduce emissions, not to mention save you a lot of money. As is the same for so many of these DIY car repairs, it sounds a lot harder than it is. There are loads of great videos and articles that can be easily found online which talk about how to replace an Air Filter. It is a quick and easy repair to do, but always remember when working on a car to ensure you are on a flat surface, the handbrake is on and you are confident in what you are doing.
Dangling exhaust pipes
A dangling exhaust pipe can make the kind of loud, annoying noise that makes you think your car is about to die, when in reality it could just be a damaged pipe holder. Most cars use rubber loops to hold exhaust pipes and these can be damaged over time. You can easily check to see if this is the case and if it is then this can simply be replaced by you without having to take it to a garage.
All of these DIY car repairs can save you hundreds of pounds, however, please remember that if they are not done correctly then it could cause more damage to your car and even make it unsafe to drive. So only try these repairs if you are confident you can do a thorough job. We cannot accept any responsibility for any botched repairs.
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